Cleaning Tips For Your Stainless Steel Sink

Day To Day Care

When first in use your sink may appear to show up scratches easily.

However, rather like the bodywork of your car, stainless steel can scratch easily. Care must be taken therefore when cleaning or indeed during every day use.

  • Never use a wire wool pad such as Brillo® to clean your sink for two reasons; it will create tiny scratches and it will also shed small pieces of mild steel that later rust and give the appearance that your sink is rusting (this is not the case but it can be very difficult to remove the small steel particles that have adhered to the surface).
  • Instead clean regularly with normal detergent and warm water. Always make a habit of drying your sink afterwards and buffing with a soft cloth. Long-term this will help develop a lovely rich patina and it will also ensure that no build up of limescale or other mineral deposits can occur.
  • If scouring is required, always use a Scotchbrite® pad and try to scour in the same direction as the natural grain on the sink’s surface.

Minor scratching of the sink’s surface is extremely difficult to avoid and is not something to be unduly concerned about. The drainer area in particular is likely to pick up scratches due to hard objects placed upon it. These marks are usually only superficial and can be removed with a proprietary stainless steel cleaner. A useful alternative is a car paint restorer such as ‘T-Cut.’.

The quality of your water can affect the good looks of your sink by giving the appearance of staining. This “staining” is generally a build-up of lime scale or similar mineral deposit, particularly prevalent in hard water areas. Lime scale readily absorbs staining agents such as tea, coffee, red wine, etc., spoiling the appearance of your sink. For this reason always rinse and dry your sink after each occasion you use it to avoid mineral deposits being left behind on the surface when the water evaporates.

To remove any lime scale that has built up on your sink, try using a proprietary lime scale removing product such as Viakal® or Limelite®. Alternatively, soak in a solution of one part vinegar to three parts water. This will loosen the scale, making it possible to scrub it away with an abrasive pad and kitchen sink cleaner.

Specific Problem Areas and Recommended Treatments

Oil, Grease and Fingerprints

These are generally removed with washing up liquid and hot water but a solvent may be required (eg. White Spirit). Care must be taken to use the proper safety precautions if using solvents.

Tea Stains

Stains from tea (tannin) can be removed by immersion in a hot solution of sodium bicarbonate (washing soda) and water. Alternatively the solution can be applied with a soft cloth or sponge.

Hard Water Spots and Scaling

A multi-purpose cream cleaner, applied with a damp cloth, will generally remove water marks. Heavy limescale can be loosened by soaking in hot vinegar solution. (3 parts hot water to 1 part vinegar).

Rust marks

It is unlikely that such marks will actually be rusting on the stainless steel sink itself. They are more likely to be the result of small particles of “ordinary steel” which have become attached to the surface then subsequently rusted. Causes can be debris from steel wool (Brillo®) scouring pads, use of steel kitchen utensils, old water supply pipes or sometimes even new taps can pass pieces of steel after installation. Removal is usually possible with a damp cloth and a multi-purpose cream cleaner.

Occasionally it may be necessary to resort to a proprietary stainless steel cleaner to return the surface to its original condition.

Heat Tinting (unlikely to occur during normal usage)

If discoloration from heat tinting does occur, the use of a proprietary stainless steel polish and a nylon scouring pad (eg. Scotchbrite®) will be required. Be aware that slight abrasion of the surface may occur from the scouring action so try to scour in the same direction as the natural grain on the sink’s surface.

(NB Do not use silver dip type cleaners as these will badly dull the surface.)

Don’t forget! – always finish off by rinsing your sink thoroughly with clean water to remove any residue, then dry it with a soft cloth to prevent limescale and water spotting.

Take Care To Avoid

  • Using a plastic washing up bowl. Particles of grit or glass could become embedded in the base of the plastic bowl and these will scratch the sink.
  • Bleach or other cleaning agents containing bleach should not be left in contact with stainless steel as discoloration or pitting of the steel could result. Examples of this type of cleaning agent include many of the new ‘trigger-dispense’ products, most domestic dishwasher liquids and some multi-purpose cream cleaners. If bleach is necessary, eg. to clean the overflow and waste outlet, squirt into the hole, leave for 2-3 minutes only, then rinse thoroughly with clean water. Under no circumstances leave in contact with the surface for longer than 30 minutes.
  • Harsh abrasives and scouring materials should not be used for cleaning stainless steel as they will leave scratch marks in the surface. Likewise, do not use wire brushes, scrapers or contaminated scouring pads.
  • Leaving wet cleaning aids on the sink (such as cloths, pads, containers). These cause water marks.
  • Silver dip type cleaners are particularly harmful as they contain strong acids that can very quickly cause discoloration and pitting. If this type of cleaner comes into contact with your sink it should be rinsed off thoroughly with clean water.